On many Mondays in the spring and fall of 2015 Baked and Battered was packed to the brim with customers. Transformed to a French bistro or a Russian eatery students in SIRCH’s Cook It Up program greeted guests waited tables and served appetizers entrees and desserts to hungry patrons.
The meal was free a clever training program for food industry workers. Diners were asked to make donations and leave comments about the experience.
A tribute to generosity and kindness the program was successful in large part because of how many people came together to support the trainees meet their neighbours try new food and offer their services. In the end trainees left with a host of skills that would help with finding jobs in food service or other customer service positions.
The last round of trainees nine in total were all offered jobs when the program was over.
“I think our training is unique in that it changes people’s attitude from I can’t to I can. It gives them confidence by letting them interact with the public” says SIRCH executive director Gena Robertson.
In 2016 the Haliburton-based charity held two other training programs: Chic and Unique which taught upcycling techniques in Haliburton; and Works of Wood which taught carpentry in Bancroft.
“Our focus is not just on … carpentry or cooking or upcycling. It’s also about what are the additional skills you need” Robertson says.
SIRCH is seeking donations from the community this holiday season to help them continue with innovative training opportunities and to support its food and bereavement programs.
Community Kitchen supplies some 3500 meals a year to those in need and this year intends to continue with its Simply Homemade program that sells meals for $5 each and supplies food to the summer students at Haliburton School of Art and Design.
“The money [from fundraising] this year is going to fund things that have no permanent government funding” says Robertson.
Aside from bereavement food and training programs SIRCH also provides the Community Action Program for Children and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program which receive government funding.
Thrift Warehouse in Haliburton and Bancroft are both social enterprises which create jobs and revenue for the charity through the sale of used goods.
Over its 28-year history SIRCH has created a large number of programs many of which continue in the community today. The practice has often been that SIRCH launches the initiative and divests it later. Examples of this include mental health services hospice services Dig In workshops and others.
Over the years SIRCH has become perhaps the only local charity that can adapt to community needs with new programs quickly.
“SIRCH has been part of what has shaped Haliburton County. In that 28th year we’re still trying to create and make positive changes” says Cammy George Gifts from the Heart campaign co-ordinator.
The campaign organizers hope to surpass $30000 over the Christmas fundraiser which will allow the food programming and bereavement programs to continue unabated. Donations also give SIRCH the ability to innovate and create which is what the organization does best.
“SIRCH is entirely unique” says Robertson. “There are very few communities where there’s an organization whose job it is to try to fill gaps working in partnership with other people. We have flexibility to do that” she says. “I think the community has benefited from that ability to be flexible to take risks to try new things.”
To donate call SIRCH at 705-457-1742 ex. 28 or go to www.sirch.on.ca or mail a cheque to SIRCH Community Services Box 687 Haliburton ON K0M 1S0. You will receive a gift card in the mail which you can give to the gift recipient. Tax receipts are issued for donations of $20 or more.